The burning sensation felt in the muscles during exercise signifies the build up of lactic acid. It plays a major role in why we lose strength, power, and endurance during exercise.
When we exercise, especially when it’s high intensity exercise, our bodies accumulate a large amount of hydrogen ions (H+), causing our muscles pH to drop (becoming more acidic). This process is occurring whether you feel a burn or not. This drop in pH decreases your strength, causing you to fatigue more quickly.
How can Beta-Alanine Help?
To understand how Beta-Alanine works to fight the drop in pH within our muscle, you must first understand how Carnosine works. The reason being is, Beta-Alanine’s performance benefits are not direct, what it’s really doing is increasing your natural Carnosine levels.
How Does Carnosine Work?
Carnosine is an intracellular buffer. Carnosine helps stabilize muscular pH by soaking up hydrogen ions (H+) that get released during exercise. By helping to keep our muscles in a more optimal pH range, we can train for a longer time. By supplementing with Beta-Alanine, we can dramatically increase Carnosine levels.
Taking Carnosine vs Beta-Alanine
When you ingest Carnosine, most of it is broken down in your gastrointestinal tract. Some Carnosine does escape the GI tract, but even that amount is quickly broken down in our blood by enzymes making it useless.
You are better off, from both efficiency and a financial standpoint, taking Beta-Alanine. You would have to take substantially more Carnosine just to approach the concentrations of Carnosine achieved by taking the recommended dose of Beta-Alanine. Clearly, taking Beta-Alanine is the superior solution to increasing Carnosine levels.
How Long Does It Take to Start Noticing Benefits?
Performance benefits typically occur in as little as two weeks, although some individuals will notice benefits within one week. As Carnosine levels increase, the benefits will follow. The most dramatic results are generally experienced within the 3-4 week range but they don’t stop there. Recent research is now showing Carnosine levels continue to increase for a minimum of 12 weeks, which is why it is recommended to use Beta-Alanine for at least three months to optimize Carnosine levels.
Because Beta-Alanine increases Carnosine and Carnosine is a powerful precursor in generating nitric oxide, many users experience intense vasodilatation/pumps from the very first dose. This is an added and immediate benefit of Beta-Alanine.
If you've ever taken Beta-Alanine then you've experienced the tingles. It's a sensation of pins and needles mostly in the hands and face caused by Beta-Alanine affecting the receptors located under the skin. This is a natural "side effect" and is no reason to be alarmed. After continued use, this phenomena will subside, and the benefits will continue.